Fuel spill contaminates GT water

| 02/05/2016 | 6 Comments
Cayman News Service

Area of fuel spill, off Shedden Road

(CNS): Water supplied to at least one customer in the capital has been contaminated by a fuel spill and many others have been advised not to drink the ground water until further notice. The Water Authority has revealed that it is currently investigating the contamination off Shedden Road, behind the Rubis gas station at the former site of a garage, and has sent test samples to Florida. The previous garage tenants are suspected as the source of the spill but the authority said that has not been confirmed.

Tests on water going to two nearby properties that were thought to have been directly exposed confirmed the presence of fuel-related contaminants in the water supply. While one was found to be within acceptable limits, as per the World Health Organisation guidelines for drinking water quality, the other was in excess and the impacted customer was advised that the water was not suitable for potable purposes.

Water Resources Engineer Hendrik-Jan van Genderen explained that inspections of all water meters within a 500-foot radius of the fuel spill were conducted and no further contamination was discovered in the public water supply but the issues has led to other customers being advised not to use ground water for potable purposes.

“This is an ongoing investigation and the authority’s first step was to identify those most affected by the spill and to notify them of any potential danger,” van Genderen said. “The authority will continue to monitor the situation and conduct further testing.”

The Water Authority said it is working with several other government organisations, the property owner, local and overseas consultants and Rubis to investigate the situation. While the cause of the spill is uncertain, it has been determined that the fuel spill did not come from the current gas station operations, officials stated in a release. Rubis has nevertheless contracted Arcadis, a consultant with expertise in environmental assessment and remediation.

As well as examining the piped water supply, groundwater wells have also been inspected and residents and businesses have been interviewed to determine whether they use groundwater for potable purposes in the area, which is a predominantly a commercial district. Notices were distributed to all residents and businesses in the area informing them not to use groundwater for potable purposes until further notice.

“Although no contamination has been discovered in the groundwater wells inspected, the authority is advising those in the vicinity not to use groundwater for drinking or cooking purposes until the extent of the spill has been determined,” van Genderen added.

The spill is an isolated incident and its water production facilities and distribution network are not affected, according to Water Authority Director Dr Gelia Frederick-van Genderen.

“The nature of the situation is such that only the pipes that came into direct contact with the fuel spill are at risk of being compromised at the molecular level,” she said. “The authority’s ability to produce clean, potable water has not been compromised and neither has its distribution network. This is a case of site-specific contamination.”

She added that it was part of the authority’s mission to ensure that any spill does not negatively impact the public and environmental health of Cayman

All affected residents and businesses in the area have been contacted and officials said it is safe for all other customers that have not been contacted directly by the authority to drink the water. But she said this incident serves as an important reminder to all businesses and individuals to dispose of potentially hazardous substances according to the standards outlined by the Department of Environmental Health.

“Though we do not know the source of the spill yet, the reality is that improper disposal of hazardous chemicals at any level is a threat to public safety and environmental health,” he said. “Substances like fuel and oil must be disposed of properly or you risk the health of your family, your neighbours, and the community in general.”

The authority said it will continue to monitor the situation and keep residents informed of ongoing developments.

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Category: environmental health, Health

Comments (6)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Bad enough we got the dump killing us now this.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I hope the Planning Department take this into account when hearing objections from residents when it comes to future gas station sites.

    I know there are a few new gas stations proposed, one of which is close to the Water Company plant in Lime Tree Bay/ Governor’s Harbour.

    A catastrophic spill could contaminate the very source of their product. Not so easy to just pack up a whole established plant and move down the road.

    Let’s face it, no one in their right mind would want a business such as this on their doorstep, enough gas stations already!

    • Robert Smith says:

      The spill didn’t come from the service station, it came from the garage that was behind it. Maybe we should close down all the garages. What’s your beef with service stations? Don’t you like having a choice of where you can fill up your car? Maybe we should have just one in each district and have to wait 15 minutes to get a pump. Would that be better?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes it’s probably just a coincidence that there’s a massive gas leak right next to the gas station…. Because nobody in government nor private sector ever blatantly lies to the public. That would be ludacris!

        • Robert Smith says:

          Obviously you never visited the garage because, if you had, you would have seen used motor oil and other contaminants spilled all over the ground. That was the normal state of that site for many years and it’s not hard to see how the garage could have caused the contamination. The article clearly states…”The previous garage tenants are suspected as the source of the spill…” and “…it has been determined that the fuel spill did not come from the current gas station operations…” What more do you want?

          • Anonymous says:

            Yeah and like you’ve never taken a tour around the island lately to see all the back yard mechanics stock piling Ivan wrecks. Willy nilly dumping used batteries and disposing of vehicle fluids in their own back yard or over the fence is common place. This won’t change any time soon, it’s become an accepted state of mind for some people. Don’t get me started on burning treated lumber. DEH/WAC really need to get their priorities in order.

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